From Iceland — News In Brief: November 2015

News In Brief: November 2015

Published November 16, 2015

News In Brief: November 2015
Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Rebecca Conway

wedding rings, marriage, love, immigrationThis past month sure has been a busy one where immigration is concerned. Over these past few weeks, we saw a Vietnamese couple accused of having a sham marriage (an accusation that was revealed to be way off the mark), and the impending deportations of two asylum-seeking families: one from Albania, and the other from Syria. That’s right, Syria: the country from whence Iceland intends to voluntarily bring in an untold number of refugees. At the time of writing, the two families are still in a state of limbo, but at least the Vietnamese couple had their marriage validated as legitimate and real and based on love—by bureaucrats working in an immigration office.

Bjarni BenSpeaking of international headlines, one story that spread like wildfire was Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson proposing to members of the Independence Party (which he chairs) that every Icelander be paid about 30,000 ISK (about $230) from the proposed sale of the State’s recently acquired bank, Íslandsbanki. The government handing out cash might make for fine image macro and Iceland-Meme material, until you consider that this money represents 5% of the government’s soon-to-be 100% share in the bank, divided by 320,000. Kind of like how if you and your buddies all chipped in to buy a keg, and then the guy who brought the keg back offered everyone a single red Solo cup of beer, but kept the rest for himself. Not such a great deal now, is it?

The IKEA Christmas goat returned to our fair shores to grace the property in front of the store’s Garðabær location. In the past, arsonists have more often than not set the goat aflame, when our robust winds haven’t torn it to pieces. Taking no chances, IKEA set up an electrical fence and CCTV around the goat… only for the goat to set itself on fire, most likely through faulty wiring in string lights festooned around the creature. Who could’ve predicted that stringing electrical wiring around a giant pile of straw would result in a fire?

Are you a Belieber? Chances are, then, that you’ve seen Justin Bieber’s video, shot in Iceland. The video, for the song “I’ll Show You,” shows Bieber gallivanting and cavorting around the country. Most notably, it seems he also tromped through some naturally protected areas—some of which are covered with fragile moss that takes decades to grow—before taking a swim in the waters of Jökulsárlón. Tourism industry workers in Iceland were none too pleased with the example the young pop star set, and said so. We’re just lucky Bieber’s video didn’t also show him doing donuts in a Land Rover and offroading, which is also frowned upon in Iceland.

Björk has once again spoken out to protect Iceland’s wilderness. In particular, she recently held a press conference with author Andri Snær Magnason, wherein the two outlined government plans to develop the highlands for power cables and hydroelectric dams. Her call to action to prevent this from happening made international headlines—and also drew the attention of Minister of Industry Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, who contends that Björk has it all wrong. There are only plans to develop the Highlands, the minister said, and those plans haven’t been approved, yet. Right. Maybe not the slam-dunk retort Ragnheiður was shooting for.

Protest outside police station 2015 by Rebecca ConwayLastly, the police questioned and then released two men accused of raping and torturing at least two women. These two guys subsequently left the country. The outrage this sparked, exacerbated by stonewalling from the police, culminated in a massive demonstration in front of Reykjavík police HQ by Hlemmur. The lawyer for the accused, Vilhjálmur H. Vilhjálmsson (a guy who recently noted that the media spends too much time covering sex crimes), denies the allegations, has filed countercharges of false accusation against the two women, and is planning to sue not only newspaper Fréttablaðið, for covering the story, but also every person on social media who shared the names and faces of the accused. Where this case goes from here is anyone’s guess, but we’ll keep you posted.

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